Thoughts Along the Path . . .
I just returned from an afternoon walk through the Village of Ayr, returning to my house with everything exactly as I had left it. I know that doesn’t sound especially remarkable – but throughout the world there are people who do not live with that level of security. I am now thinking about the Baha’is in the Iranian village of Roshankouh who in recent weeks have shockingly, tragically, sadly, though perhaps not surprisingly, found their homes being bulldozed by order of their government. There was no warning, no explanation, no options other than the horror of seeing this occur. Neighbours within their village were ordered to stay inside their homes, their cell phones having been confiscated along with an order not to photograph the destruction — all under threat of arrest. The roads into and out of the village were even blocked.
As if this weren’t enough, Baha’is throughout that nation continue to experience denial of education, annulment of marriages, closing of businesses —while some of the most basic of human and civil rights continue to be withheld. That’s why I said earlier “perhaps not surprisingly” — because the systematic campaign against the Baha’is of Iran is not new, and the recent acts of persecution are but another wave.
Elsewhere in Iran, not just in these villages, dozens of Baha’is have been imprisoned and hundreds arrested, though none are guilty of a crime other than being a Baha’i. One of the ironies of this situation is that Baha’is are peace-loving people. I know this firsthand since I am a Baha’i, too. And as anyone who has ever read anything about our faith already knows, we recognize the truth of Islam as well as Christianity, Judaism, and other world faiths. We pose no threat to anyone, and we extend our friendship and goodwill to all humanity.
What would you do if anything even close to this happened here in the Village of Ayr? What would you do if your own home or your neighbour’s home was suddenly bulldozed? The land itself seized by the government? Children banished from schools? Businesses closed? Meetings forbidden? Legal documents such as marriage certificates nullified? What would you do?
Governments around the world, with just a few exceptions, rally in support of the Baha’is. The United Nations has repeatedly condemned the practices that point to an attempt to exterminate an entire people.
Recognizing that I am incapable of any direct action, I thought I’d at least try to summarize the situation and share it here. If you are a person of faith, please consider praying for the Baha’is of Iran. And all of us can try to stay informed, to let our Members of Parliament know of our support and thank them for their efforts to-date. As recently as June 2020 the Canadian Parliament signed an open letter calling for Iran to halt its persecution of Baha’is. And we can all try to learn more about this and similar situations worldwide. We can remain vigilant for the cause of justice wherever injustice occurs.
Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And here’s a quotation from Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith: “And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself.”
Submitted to Ayr News by Jaellayna Palmer, August 2022
© Jaellayna Palmer 2022